LA TIMES: NEW DHS ENFORCEMENT POLICIES SEEK TO PUNISH CHILDREN AND PARENTS SEEKING ASYLUM – Really, Is This What We’ve Become As a Nation In The “Age of Trump?”

http://enewspaper.latimes.com/infinity/article_share.aspx?guid=371cd9b8-56d5-4cca-a96c-53e177ee2201

Molly Hennessy-Fiske reports for the LA Times

EL PASO — Thousands of parents who crossed illegally into the U.S. in recent years have been held with their children at immigration detention centers. But the case of a Brazilian woman and her son illustrates what migrant advocates call a harsher approach to immigration enforcement that aims to separate parents and children.

She’s being held in Texas, while her son was taken to a shelter in Illinois. The unspoken goal, advocates say, is to discourage parents from crossing illegally or attempting to request asylum.

The Brazilian mother — who asked to be identified only as Jocelyn because she was fleeing domestic violence — entered the U.S. in August with her 14-year-old son, who she said was being threatened by gangs. They hoped to apply for asylum.

Migrant families like Jocelyn’s are usually processed by immigration courts, an administrative process. Such families are detained together or released with notices to appear at later court proceedings. President Trump promised to end the practice, dismissing it as “catch and release.”

Historically, most border crossers were sent back to their home countries, but the Trump administration has threatened to prosecute some migrant parents because entering the country illegally is a federal crime. The first offense is a misdemeanor, with a maximum sentence of six months. Those caught a second time face a felony charge with a maximum sentence of up to 20 years, depending on their criminal record. Once a case becomes a criminal matter, parents and children are separated.

According to public defenders and immigrant advocates, more and more immigrant families who come to the southern border seeking asylum are being charged in federal criminal courts from El Paso to Arizona. Jocelyn was charged with a misdemeanor, and her son was sent to a shelter in Chicago. Comprehensive statistics do not exist, but activists and attorneys say anecdotal evidence suggests the practice is spreading.

“There’s not supposed to be blanket detention of people seeking asylum, but in reality, that’s what’s happening” in El Paso, said Dylan Corbett, director of the Hope Border Institute, a nonprofit social justice group. “We’re still in this limbo in our sector and across the border: What’s going on? What are the new policies?”

Last week, 75 congressional Democrats led by Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Downey) sent a letter to the secretary of Homeland Security expressing outrage at increased family separations and demanding officials clarify their policies within two weeks.

“We are gravely concerned that these practices are expanding and worsening, further traumatizing families and impeding access to a fair process for seeking asylum,” they wrote.

Homeland Security won’t say it is targeting families but does say it is making procedural and policy changes to deter illegal immigration.

“The administration is committed to using all legal tools at its disposal to secure our nation’s borders,” said Tyler Houlton, a Homeland Security spokesman.

Jocelyn said she fled Brazil to escape an abusive husband. During a recent meeting at the El Paso detention center where she is being held, she lifted the sleeve of her white uniform to show scars on her arm that she said came from beatings by her husband, an armed security guard who refused to grant her a divorce.

She and her son flew to Mexico on Aug. 24, crossed the border two days later, turned themselves in to Border Patrol near El Paso and were told they would be separated.

“I didn’t know where they were taking him,” she said of her son. “They didn’t tell me. I asked many times. They just said ‘Don’t worry.’ ”

Elsewhere on the border, including Texas’ Rio Grande Valley to the east where most migrants cross illegally, many parents and children are still released together with notices to appear in immigration court.

To opponents of illegal immigration, the practice of charging migrants with criminal offenses is a good thing. Andrew Arthur, a former immigration judge now serving as a resident fellow at the conservative Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies, said criminal charges are a deterrent.

“The reason the children are there to begin with is this belief [among immigrants] that a parent with a child will not be detained,” Arthur said. He added that exposing children to smugglers who could abuse and kidnap them “borders frankly on child abuse.”

Last April, Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions issued guidance to U.S. attorneys urging more aggressive prosecution of those illegally reentering the country. As the number of migrant families crossing illegally increased last summer, parents were detained by U.S. marshals, but their children were reclassified as unaccompanied minors and placed at shelters across the country by the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Migrant advocates sued in federal court, arguing that when asylum seekers declare a fear of returning to their home country, federal law dictates that they be referred to an asylum officer, even if they crossed the border illegally, and their cases considered by immigration judges.

In October, El Paso immigrant advocates asked Border Patrol officials whether they were separating migrant parents from their children.

“They volunteered yes, we’re doing family separation,” Corbett recalled, adding that one agent “said it was standard practice locally here in the sector to separate all children 10 years and older from their family. We were all shocked.”

Afterward, Border Patrol attorney Lisa Donaldson emailed those who had attended the meeting, insisting that the “Border Patrol does not have a blanket policy requiring the separation of family units” and that any increase in separations “is due primarily to the increase in prosecutions of immigration-related crimes.”

Daryl Fields, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in western Texas, which files federal criminal charges, said each case is considered individually and that “we do not target individuals for prosecution based on their parental status.”

Federal public defenders said that criminally charging asylum seekers not only violates international treaties, it encourages migrants to plead guilty so they can end their case quickly, get deported and try to reunite with their children.

“It impacts the lawfulness or constitutionality of their guilty plea,” said Maureen Franco, the federal public defender for the western district of Texas. “They’re under the misconception ‘The quicker I get my case over with, the quicker I’ll get my children back.’ Any lawyer worth their salt will tell them it’s not like that.”

Franco’s office has asked a federal court to dismiss improper entry charges against four Central American parents and a grandmother whose children were removed after the adults were detained. A judge ruled in favor of the government Jan. 5. Federal public defenders are appealing.

Immigration attorney Bridget Cambria has handled 15 family separation cases, including several mothers charged and separated from their children in El Paso.

“There’s huge questions about whether it’s legal when they’re seeking asylum. They’re using the federal statutes as a reason to take their child,” Cambria said.

It’s not clear how many migrant parents like Jocelyn have been charged and separated from their children. Federal public defenders and U.S. district courts do not track them. U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported just five migrant family members referred for prosecution in federal criminal court this year fiscal year, which started in October. It reported seven last fiscal year and 21 the year before that.

Estimates from migrant advocacy groups are much higher.

In Arizona, the Tucson-based Florence Immigration and Refugee Rights Project saw 213 such cases last year, an increase from the 190 cases the year before. Legal director Laura St. John said the group has already served 23 separated families this year.

A dozen cases of family separation were reported by Washington-based Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. Hope Border Institute surveyed attorneys representing 90 asylum seekers in the El Paso area between June and November 2017 and found 94% had clients separated from their children.

In December, a host of immigrant advocacy groups filed a complaint with Homeland Security alleging that parents have been charged and separated from their children, “without a clear or reasonable justification, as a means of punishment and/or deterrence, and with few mechanisms to locate, contact, or reunite with family members.” The complaint is pending.

As for Jocelyn, a federal judge in Las Cruces found her guilty of crossing the border illegally, a misdemeanor, on Sept. 22. She received a suspended sentence and was transferred to immigration detention in El Paso. Instead of self-deporting, Jocelyn stayed to pursue her asylum claim.

She learned through the Brazilian Consulate that her son was at a Chicago shelter and she has since spoken to him by phone four times.

She said her son told her that other children of migrants in the shelter tried to run away because they missed their parents. Jocelyn urged her son to stay put. He promised he would.

She worries, but is hopeful. Immigration officials recently found she has a credible fear of returning home, the first step toward obtaining asylum, and a pro bono attorney is trying to get her released on bond.

She tried to reassure her son during a recent phone call. “As soon as I get out,” she said, “I will come get you.”

*************************************

Wow! What a great way to spend U.S. Government funds! Picking on refugees —  abused women and kids who have the audacity to seek to exercise their legal rights under our laws and International Conventions.

Let’s get down to the truth here. “Jocelyn” in the above article appears to be a legitimate refugee. Assuming she’s telling the truth — and she has the scars to prove it, she should be a “slam dunk” asylum grant under Matter of A-R-C-G-, 26 I&N Dec. 388 (BIA 2014) (domestic violence can be a basis for asylum).

The logical way of proceeding would be to release her while making sure she gets linked up with a good pro bono organization who can assign a lawyer to investigate, confirm, and document her case and then file the asylum application with the Immigration Court. In my experience, a well-documented case like this could go on an “accelerated short docket.” There it could be granted, basically by stipulation of the parties, after short testimony to confirm key events and double-check for any criminal or security grounds. With adequate preparation, and cooperation between the pro bono lawyer and the DHS Assistant Chief Counsel, this case should take no more than 30 minutes, one hour “tops,” of precious hearing time.

No need for detention, clogging the Immigration Courts’ Individual Hearing dockets, or any other form of “Aimless Docket reshuffling.” Best of all, we’re in compliance with the laws and our Constitutional guarantees of Due Process. Sounds like a “winner” to me for all concerned.

I have no doubt that there are many “Jocelyns” out there among recent border arrivals. Even those who don’t technically have “grantable” asylum claims under the overly restrictive precedents, should, if credible, be able to document strong cases for relief under the Convention Against Torture given the breakdown in government authority and de facto control by gangs in most parts of the Northern Triangle, the source of most of today’s Southern Border asylum  applicants.

So, why are we wasting money on detention and criminal prosecution to keep folks who seldom if ever present any threats to the United States from getting the protection to which our laws entitle them? Why are we trying to send (usually ineffective in any event) “don’t come” messages to people who have a right to seek protection under our laws? Why would we make it difficult for individuals to exercise their statutory right to be represented by counsel and to have adequate time to prepare their cases?

Sounds to me like DHS and the Administration are abusing our laws and our Constitutional guarantees and wasting lots of time and money in the process. Ultimately, that’s something of which we should be ashamed.

PWS

02-20-18

A BIA WIN FOR THE GOOD GUYS! – MICHELLE MENDEZ & HER CLINIC TEAM GET REOPENING FOR ASYLUM APPLICANTS IN ATLANTA! (Submitted By Dan Kowalski at LexisNexis)!

From: Michelle Mendez [mailto:mmendez@cliniclegal.org]
Sent: Monday, February 19, 2018 10:00 AM
To: Artesia OTG <artesiaotg@lists.aila.org>
Subject: [artesiaotg] Good news — the BIA has issued a great unpublished decision on late-filed appeals! (Attached.)

 

Greetings,

The ASAP team of Swapna Reddy, Dorothy Tegeler, and  Liz Willis has done it again. With just a few days before her check-in with Atlanta ICE ERO, a mother reached out to us via our Facebook group. Taylor, Lee & Associates had represented her and accepted an order of removal without fighting her case. Many of us are familiar with this law firm having heard about or helped the families targeted in January 2016 by the Obama Administration who were also represented by this firm in the same manner. By “representation” I mean that the law firm did not defend her against removal before the IJ instead accepting an order of removal in exchange for seeking a stay of removal and promising an EAD.

When we learned her case involved the same “salvo conducto” practice by this law firm and that the mother had not actually consent to this practice, we knew we had to help this mother. But time was not on our side as her imminent check-in with Atlanta ICE EOR was supposed to be her last. After strategically considering our options, we rushed to prepare an untimely BIA appeal….a two-year untimely appeal. We prepared a stay of removal application and recruited a local advocate, Keith Farmer, to attend the Atlanta ICE ERO check-in with her and submit the stay. Keith handled the situation like a professional, and the mother was ultimately never detained at her subsequent check-ins at which Shana Tabak artfully accompanied her.

The BIA accepted the Notice to Appeal and issued a briefing schedule. We followed this with an emergency motion for a stay of removal with the BIA. While the Notice to Appeal was pending and we awaited the briefing schedule, we complied with the Lozada procedures and obtained a psych evaluation of the client thanks to Craig Katz, Elizabeth Singer, and Varsha Subramaniam. We reached out to Trina Realmuto and Kristin Macleod-Ball, who provided strategic advice and an amicus brief in support of our untimely appeal. Katie Shephard provided an invaluable declaration given her work on the cases of the families represented by this law firm and targeted in January 2016 by the Obama Administration who were taken to Dilley. Laura Lichter also pitched in with strategic feedback and sample filings given her tireless work on the January 2016 cases, and her input was essential. And, last but not least, we reached out to Bradley Jenkins andLory Rosenberg for their wisdom, who helped us to frame arguments in the most compelling way.

The BIA dismissed the appeal as untimely instructing us to file a Motion to Reconsider and Remand on the question of timeliness. As was done in five nearly identical cases involving this law firm, we asked the BIA to accept this late-filed appeal on certification, or in the alternative, equitably toll the notice of appeal deadline and remand the case for further proceedings before the Immigration Judge. The BIA decision is attached. Huge thanks to ASAP volunteer law student Mayu Arimoto for her assistance with this briefing. Of course, and as always, thanks to Ben Winograd for his filing assistance with the BIA.

The moral of this story is that defending the rights of immigrants is tough work. We battle inhumane policies, cowardly or openly authoritarian leaders, greedy representatives who fill their coffers with private prison money, negative public opinion, intentional and unintentional media misinformation, notarios/unauthorized practitioners of law, and even other attorneys who abandon their duty to zealously represent their vulnerable clients. But when competent and caring advocates join forces, we can do anything.

Michelle N. Mendez

Training and Legal Support Senior Attorney

Defending Vulnerable Populations Project Manager

Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC)

Mailing Address: 8757 Georgia Avenue, Suite 850, Silver Spring, MD 20910

Physical Address: OPD, 217 E. Redwood Street, Suite 1020, Baltimore, MD 21202

Cellular Phone: 540.907.1761

Fax Number: 301.565.4824

Email: mmendez@cliniclegal.org

Website: www.cliniclegal.org

 

Save the date for CLINIC’s 20th annual Convening!

Defending hope and the American Dream

May 30 – June 1, 2018 | Tucson, AZ

cliniclegal.org/convening

 

Embracing the Gospel value of welcoming the stranger, CLINIC promotes the dignity and protects the rights of immigrants in partnership with a dedicated network of Catholic and community legal immigration programs.

 

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HERE’S A COPY OF THE (UNFORTUNATELY UNPUBLISHED) BIA DECISION BY APPELLATE IMMIGRATION JUDGE MOLLY KENDALL CLARK:

Redacted S-H-O BIA Remand

********************************************

Congrats to Michelle and her CLINIC team for winning a great victory for fairness, Due Process, and the New Due Process Army!

This also reminds us that notwithstanding the pressure from the Sessions DOJ to turn the Immigration Courts and the BIA into an “assembly line” churning out more removal orders, every day talented, conscientious, hard-working jurists like Judge Kendall Clark and others like her in the Immigration Court System remain firmly committed to the original “Due Process Mission” and independent decision-making that were supposed to be the sole focus of EOIR (before the “politicos” intervened with their attempts to “game” the system against migrants to achieve DHS enforcement goals).

We need an independent Article I U.S. Immigration Court (including an Appellate Division) so that judges can do their jobs of unbiased, scholarly, independent, Due Process focused decision making without “quotas,” “performance evaluations,” directives from administrators not actively involved in judging, and other improper political interference!

 

PWS

02-19-18

 

 

GONZO’S WORLD: TRUMP & SESSIONS ARE SYSTEMATICALLY DISMANTLING OUR JUSTICE SYSTEM – THE “BOGUS FOCUS” ON IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT IS KEY TO THEIR DESTRUCTIVE STRATEGY! — “Perhaps the most insidious part of the Trump administration’s approach to criminal justice lies in its efforts to link crime to its broader crackdown on immigration.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/17/opinion/sunday/donald-trump-and-the-undoing-of-justice-reform.html

The New York Times Editorial Board writes:

“In the decade or so before Donald Trump became president, America’s approach to criminal justice was changing fast — reckoning with decades of destructive and ineffective policies that had ballooned the prison population and destroyed countless lives. Red and blue states were putting in place smart, sensible reforms like reducing harsh sentencing laws, slashing prison populations and crime rates, and providing more resources for the thousands of people who are released every week.

President Obama’s record on the issue was far from perfect, but he and his first attorney general, Eric Holder Jr., took several key steps: weakening racially discriminatory sentencing laws, shortening thousands of absurdly long drug sentences, and pulling back on the prosecution of low-level drug offenders and of federal marijuana offenses in states that have legalized it. This approach reflected state-level efforts and sent a message of encouragement to those still leery of reform.

Within minutes of taking office, Mr. Trump turned back the dial, warning darkly in his Inaugural Address of “American carnage,” of cities and towns gutted by crime — even though crime rates are at their lowest in decades. Things only got worse with the confirmation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who, along with Mr. Trump, appears to be stuck in the 1980s, when politicians exploited the public’s fear of rising crime to sell absurdly harsh laws and win themselves re-election. Perhaps that’s why both men seem happy to distort, if not outright lie about, crime statistics that no longer support their narrative.

Last February, Mr. Trump claimed that “the murder rate in our country is the highest it’s been in 47 years.” Wrong: The national rate remains at an all-time low. It’s true that the 10.8 percent increase in murders between 2014 and 2015 was the largest one-year rise in more than four decades, but the total number of murders is still far below what it was in the early 1990s.

 

As bad as the dishonesty is the fact that Mr. Trump and Mr. Sessions have managed to engineer their backward worldview largely under the public’s radar, as a new report from the Brennan Center for Justice documents. Last May, Mr. Sessions ordered federal prosecutors to charge as aggressively as possible in every case — reversing a policy of Mr. Holder’s that had eased up on nonviolent drug offenders and others who fill the nation’s federal prisons. In January, Mr. Sessions rescinded another Obama-era policy that discouraged federal marijuana prosecutions in states where its sale and use are legal. (Mr. Sessions has long insisted, contrary to all available evidence, that marijuana is “a dangerous drug” and “only slightly less awful” than heroin.)

These sorts of moves don’t get much attention, but as the report notes, they could end up increasing the federal prison population, which began to fall for the first time in decades under Mr. Obama.

The reversal of sensible criminal justice reform doesn’t stop there. Under Mr. Trump, the Justice Department has pulled back from his predecessor’s investigations of police abuse and misconduct; resumed the use of private, for-profit prisons; and stopped granting commutations to low-level drug offenders who have spent years or decades behind bars.

Meanwhile, Mr. Sessions, who as a senator was one of the most reliable roadblocks to long-overdue federal sentencing reform, is still throwing wrenches into the works as Congress inches toward a bipartisan deal. Mr. Sessions called the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, a sweeping bill that would reduce some mandatory-minimum sentences, and that cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, a “grave error.” That earned him a rebuke from the committee’s chairman, Senator Charles Grassley, who pointed out that the attorney general is tasked with enforcing the laws, not writing them. “If General Sessions wanted to be involved in marking up this legislation, maybe he should have quit his job and run for the Republican Senate seat in Alabama,” Mr. Grassley said.

Mr. Grassley is no one’s idea of a justice reformer, but he supports the bill because, he said, it “strikes the right balance of improving public safety and ensuring fairness in the criminal justice system.”

So what has this administration done right? The list is short and uninspiring. In October, Mr. Trump declared the epidemic of opioid abuse a national emergency, which could be a good step toward addressing it — but he’s since done almost nothing to combat a crisis that killed more than 64,000 Americans in 2016.

In his State of the Union address last month, Mr. Trump promised to “embark on reforming our prisons to help former inmates who have served their time get a second chance.” It’s great if he really means that, but it’s hard to square his assurance with his own attorney general’s opposition to a bill that includes recidivism-reduction programs intended to achieve precisely this goal.

Perhaps the most insidious part of the Trump administration’s approach to criminal justice lies in its efforts to link crime to its broader crackdown on immigration. In a speech last month, Mr. Sessions said undocumented immigrants are far more likely than American citizens to commit crimes, a claim he found in a paper by John Lott, the disreputable economist best known for misusing statistics to suit his own ideological ends. In this case, it appears Mr. Lott misread his own data, which came from Arizona and in fact showed the opposite of what he claimed: Undocumented immigrants commit fewer crimes than citizens, as the vast majority of research on the topic has found.

But no matter; Mr. Trump and Mr. Sessions don’t need facts to run their anti-immigrant agenda, which has already resulted in more than double the number of arrests of immigrants with no criminal convictions as in 2016, as the Brennan Center report noted. Soon after taking office, Mr. Trump issued an executive order cutting off federal funding to so-called sanctuary cities, jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials. A federal judge blocked the order in November for violating the Constitution.

The rhetoric from the White House and the Justice Department has emboldened some state and local officials to talk tougher, even if just as ignorantly, about crime. The good news is that it’s not working as well anymore. In Virginia’s race for governor last fall, the Republican candidate, Ed Gillespie, attacked his opponent, Ralph Northam, with ads blaming him for violence by the MS-13 gang.

It was a despicable stunt, its fearmongering recalling the racist but effective Willie Horton ad that George H. W. Bush ran on in his successful 1988 presidential campaign. Thankfully, Virginia’s voters overwhelmingly rejected Mr. Gillespie, another sign that criminal justice reform is an issue with strong support across the political spectrum. In the era of Donald Trump, candidates of both parties should be proud to run as reformers — but particularly Democrats, who can cast the issue not only as a central component of a broader progressive agenda, but as yet another example of just how out of touch with the country Mr. Trump and his administration are.”

******************************************

I know it’s quoted above, but two paragraphs of this article deserve re-emphasis:

Perhaps the most insidious part of the Trump administration’s approach to criminal justice lies in its efforts to link crime to its broader crackdown on immigration. In a speech last month, Mr. Sessions said undocumented immigrants are far more likely than American citizens to commit crimes, a claim he found in a paper by John Lott, the disreputable economist best known for misusing statistics to suit his own ideological ends. In this case, it appears Mr. Lott misread his own data, which came from Arizona and in fact showed the opposite of what he claimed: Undocumented immigrants commit fewer crimes than citizens, as the vast majority of research on the topic has found.

But no matter; Mr. Trump and Mr. Sessions don’t need facts to run their anti-immigrant agenda, which has already resulted in more than double the number of arrests of immigrants with no criminal convictions as in 2016, as the Brennan Center report noted. Soon after taking office, Mr. Trump issued an executive order cutting off federal funding to so-called sanctuary cities, jurisdictions that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials. A federal judge blocked the order in November for violating the Constitution.

Gonzo consistently uses bogus statistics, fear-mongering, racial innuendo, and outright slurs of immigrants, including Dreamers, and their advocates to advance his White Nationalist agenda at Justice.

At the same time, he largely ignores or proposes laughably inadequate steps to address the real justice problems in America: Russian interference, the opioid crisis, uncontrolled gun violence (much of it involving mass shootings by disgruntled White Guys with assault-type weapons), overcrowded prisons, lack of an effective Federal community-based anti-gang effort in major cities, hate crimes committed by White Supremacists, grotesquely substandard conditions in civil immigration detention, and the uncontrolled backlogs and glaring denials of Due Process and fairness to migrants in our U.S. Immigration Court System.

How long can America go without a real Attorney General who acknowledges the rights of all people in America? How will we ever recover from the damage that Gonzo does every day he remains in the office for which he is so supremely unqualified?

PWS

02-19-18

 

DREAMER DEBACLE: MY THREE “TAKEAWAYS”

DREAMER DEBACLE: MY THREE “TAKEAWAYS”
  • Trump and the GOP aren’t going to help the Dreamers. While the majority of GOP voters are favorably disposed to Dreamers, it isn’t a priority for them. Unlike the Dems, GOP legislators aren’t getting pressure from their constituents to solve the Dreamer problem. Meanwhile, “the base” doesn’t like the Dreamers. Without Trump’s support, the GOP isn’t going to press the issue. With Trump’s active opposition and veto threats, the Dreamers are “dead meat” as far as the GOP is concerned.

 

  • The Democrats can’t help the Dreamers from their minority position. The minority doesn’t get to control the agenda, particularly over the President’s active opposition. No, it doesn’t make sense to blame Schumer for sacrificing “leverage” he never really had. The shutdown didn’t work. The Dems and the Dreamers were losing the public opinion battle. Since the GOP is basically out to destroy Government (other than the military) they didn’t feel much pressure to make concessions to the minority to get it reopened.

 

  • The Dreamers aren’t going anywhere. It’s a tossup whether the Supremes will intervene in Trump’s favor in the Dreamer case. We will probably find out within the next week. Even if the Supremes do Trump’s bidding, there is no way Trump can deport 700,000 Dreamers. Unlike the semi-helpless women and children detained at the border that Trump & Sessions like to pick on, the Dreamers have resources, community support, and access to good lawyers. They have lots of possible defenses to removal and some affirmative causes of action that should keep the legal system occupied for decades, or at least until we get regime change and wiser legislators finally put the Dreamers on the path to citizenship.

PWS

02-18-18

NIGHTMARE: TRUMP AND THE GOP’S UGLY LEGACY TO DREAMERS: “They will lose jobs and, in many cases, driver’s licenses, tuition subsidies and health insurance. They will slip into the shadows in the only country they know. This will be Mr. Trump’s legacy and the true reflection of his ‘great heart.’”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/mr-trump-to-the-dreamers-drop-dead/2018/02/17/26799300-1320-11e8-8ea1-c1d91fcec3fe_story.html

By the Washington Post Editorial Board:

“PRESIDENT TRUMP has often spoken and tweeted of the soft spot in his “great heart” for “dreamers,” the hundreds of thousands of young immigrants brought to this country as children. This supposed concern has now been revealed as a con.

Offered bipartisan legislation in the Senate that would have protected 1.8 million dreamers from deportation, in return for a down payment on the $25 billion wall Mr. Trump assured voters that Mexico would finance, the president showed his cards. The deal was a “total catastrophe,” the president said, punctuating a day in which the White House mustered all its political firepower in an effort to bury the last best chance to protect an absolutely blameless cohort of young people, raised and educated as Americans.

Despite the withering scorn heaped on the bipartisan plan by Mr. Trump, with a hearty second by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), eight Republican senators backed it, giving it a total of 54 votes — six shy of the 60 required for passage. Had Mr. Trump stayed silent, or suggested he could accept a modified version, the bill may very well have passed. But he turns out to be far less interested helping the dreamers — helping anyone, really — than in maintaining his anti-immigrant political base.

His own blueprint, an obvious nonstarter that included sharp cuts to legal immigration, mustered just 39 votes in the Senate, nearly all Republicans. That’s a telling total, one that mirrors the percentage of Americans who still support him. Of the four immigration measures voted on in the Senate last week, the Trump bill had the least support.

The White House wasn’t surprised. By yoking its proposal for protecting dreamers to a hard-line wish list, the president guaranteed its defeat — and maintained the president’s own bona fides as a resolute champion of the nation’s xenophobes.

The president, along with Mr. McConnell, is intent on a blame game, not a solution. He suggested no compromises and engaged in no negotiations, preferring to stick with maximalist demands. Despite barely mentioning it as a candidate, Mr. Trump has not budged from insisting on a plan to reduce annual legal immigrants to the United States by hundreds of thousands, to the lowest level in decades.

That’s bad policy for a country with an aging population and an unemployment rate that ranks among the lowest in the industrialized world. More to the point, even if you favor lower levels, it was guaranteed in the context of this debate to doom the dreamers — especially after Democrats had already compromised substantially on the border security that Mr. Trump initially set as his price.

And what of the dreamers, whom Mr. Trump addressed repeatedly in calming tones, telling them not to worry? For the time being, federal courts have preserved their work permits and protections from deportation. Meanwhile, though, his administration is pressing ahead, asking the Supreme Court to uphold the president’s effort to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the Obama-era program that has shielded dreamers since 2012.

If the administration is successful, as many legal experts expect, the lives, hopes and futures of nearly 2 million young immigrants will be upended. They will lose jobs and, in many cases, driver’s licenses, tuition subsidies and health insurance. They will slip into the shadows in the only country they know. This will be Mr. Trump’s legacy and the true reflection of his “great heart.”

**************************************

As pointed out in this editorial, the best chance for a compromise, basically “Dreamers for Wall,” likely would have passed both Houses had Trump put himself fully behind it and pressured McConnell and Ryan to make it happen. But, that was never in the cards. The whole charade was always about Trump looking for a way to avoid taking responsibility for the Dreamer fiasco and proving to his “base” that he never really lost sight of their racist views.

About the only good thing was that the Administration’s “Miller-drafted” “Advancing White Supremacy and Xenophobic Racism Act of 2018” was defeated by the biggest margin of any of the proposals. But, that’s not much solace to the Dreamers, although it does help our country by staving off an insane cut in legal immigration that would have been “bad policy for a country with an aging population and an unemployment rate that ranks among the lowest in the industrialized world.”

PWS

02-18-18

 

DERELICTION OF DUTY! — VLADI PUTIN SCORED A DIRECT HIT ON OUR “SHIP OF STATE!” – WITH THE SHIP LISTING AND THE CREW FRANTICALLY WARNING OF OTHER IMMINENT ATTACKS, “CAPTAIN COWARD” ROWS AWAY TO SAVE HIS OWN SKIN WHILE LEAVING OUR NATION TO “SINK WITH THE SHIP!” – How Is This Right? – Why Are We Letting Him Get Away With It?

FROM TODAYS’ WASHINGTON POST — THE EDITORIAL BOARD WRITES:

February 16 at 8:09 PM

FRIDAY’S FEDERAL grand jury indictment of 13 Russians for conspiracy to interfere illegally in the 2016 presidential election presents powerful evidence that Moscow staged an attack on the United States’ democratic political process. The facts, doggedly accumulated by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III despite much hostility from President Trump, show that the Russians’ goal was to foment “distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general,” as the indictment puts it. And the chosen means was “information warfare,” reportedly waged via provocations on social media and the occasional in-person grass-roots activity. It began in 2014 and involved Russians engaging in political activities under false, sometimes stolen, identities; no Americans wittingly cooperated with this particular plot, though some did so unwittingly, according to the indictment.

The indictment thus undercuts any lingering suggestion that Russian interference is a myth or a hoax, and Mr. Trump, who has often suggested as much, should have acknowledged the new evidence Friday. Instead, his first reaction was to claim vindication on Twitter. “The Trump campaign did nothing wrong,” he wrote, adding, “no collusion!” This was inappropriate on two levels.

First, though the indictment did say that there was no knowing American collusion with the Russian social media campaign, and though it did not say that it affected the results, it also showed that the vast majority of Russian propaganda supported Mr. Trump’s campaign and attacked that of his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. You would think Mr. Trump would take a moment to repudiate that support, even in hindsight, and to declare that no foreign power has a right to campaign secretly against an American candidate.

Second, Mr. Mueller has not finished his investigation and has not ruled out the possibility of collusion. We don’t yet know whether Donald Trump Jr.’s eagerness to meet with Russians offering “dirt” on Ms. Clinton’s campaign was an isolated incident. Nor has the special counsel yet weighed in on the question of possible obstruction of his investigation by President Trump.

Meanwhile, the evidence of a Russian assault on the U.S. election is a serious development in and of itself that any responsible president would respond to in a serious way. Such an attempt to delegitimize the American system could only have gone forward with the knowledge and approval of Russian President Vladi­mir Putin. It reflected the Kremlin’s all-too-accurate judgment that a divided and polarized U.S. electorate would be vulnerable to the same sort of dirty tricks Russia has pulled in Europe. In a statement, Mr. Trump declared that “we cannot allow those seeking to sow confusion, discord, and rancor to be successful,” though he strangely blamed not Russia, but rather “outlandish partisan attacks” by his opponents, which, he said, “further the agendas of bad actors, like Russia.” The only message he should be sending now, both to the American people and to Moscow, is that Mr. Putin is responsible and that the U.S. government will respond to his covert attacks with appropriate retaliation.

President Trump continues to insist the Democrats are responsible for any story relating to Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The grand jury’s indictment shows how far Russia is willing to go to manipulate and discredit our democracy. Mr. Trump’s own intelligence chiefs warned this week that the 2018 election is under threat. Given the baffling and inexcusable absence of presidential leadership, Congress must step up to defend the nation.”

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An “inexcusable absence of presidential leadership.” Sorry, I don’t find that “baffling” or surprising at all. In fact, it’s a depressingly accurate and succinct description of Trump’s entire “Joke Presidency.”

Trump’s own intelligence officials, including National Security Advisor Gen. McMaster are all warning of the seriousness of the threat Russia poses to our electoral integrity and national security. Trump is, as normal, focused entirely on trying (totally unsuccessfully) to cover his own behind. This is a guy who up until now has been calling Russian interference with  the 2016 Election “a hoax” and “fake news.”

And, there is zero chance that the spineless and complicit GOP-controlled Congress will step into the breach. They are too busy looting our country before Armageddon comes!

There is, however, one way available to all of us to save our country! Throw the GOP scoundrels, enablers, and “Fellow Travelers” out of office. A Democratic Congress is the best hope for the people to take back control and save America from Putin, Trump, and the “New American Oligarchs” and “Kleptocrats” who are enabling both of them!

Otherwise, we all ought to start studying Russian. Because we’re all going to need it to communicate with our “future real rulers” in Moscow!

PWS

02-17-18

“GANG OF 14” FORMER IMMIGRATION JUDGES AND BIA APPELLATE IMMIGRATION JUDGES (INCLUDING ME) FILE AMICUS BRIEF IN SUPPORT OF ADMINISTRATIVE CLOSING! – Matter of Castro-Tum

HERE’S “OUR HERO” STEVEN H. SCHULMAN OF AKIN GUMP’S DC OFFICE WHO DID ALL THE “HEAVY LIFTING” OF DRAFTING THE BRIEF:

HERE’S THE “CAST OF CHARACTERS” (A/K/A “GANG OF 14”):

Amici curiae are retired Immigration Judges and former members of the Board of Immigration Appeals, who seek to address the Attorney General’s certified questions regarding administrative closure. Amici were appointed to serve at immigration courts around the United States and with the Board, and at senior positions with the Executive Office of Immigration Review. From their many combined years of service, amici have intimate knowledge of the operation of the immigration courts, including the importance of various procedural mechanisms to maintain efficient dockets. As explained in detail, administrative closure, when used judiciously, is a critical tool for immigration judges in managing their dockets. Without tools like administrative closure, immigration judges would be hampered, unable to set aside those matters that do not yet require court intervention and thus prevented from focusing on the removal cases that demand immediate attention.

In particular, the Honorable Sarah M. Burr served as a U.S. Immigration Judge in New York from 1994 and was appointed as Assistant Chief Immigration Judge in charge of the New York, Fishkill, Ulster, Bedford Hills and Varick Street immigration courts in 2006. She served in this capacity until January 2011, when she returned to the bench full-time until she retired in 2012. Prior to her appointment, she worked as a staff attorney for the Criminal Defense Division of the Legal Aid Society in its trial and appeals bureaus and also as the supervising attorney in its immigration unit. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Immigrant Justice Corps.

The Honorable Jeffrey S. Chase served as an Immigration Judge in New York City from 1995 to 2007 and was an attorney advisor and senior legal advisor at the Board from 2007 to 2017. He is presently in private practice as an independent consultant on immigration law, and Page 2 of 32 is of counsel to the law firm of DiRaimondo & Masi in New York City. Prior to his appointment, he was a sole practitioner and volunteer staff attorney at Human Rights First. He also was the recipient of the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s annual pro bono award in 1994 and chaired AILA’s Asylum Reform Task Force.

The Honorable Bruce J. Einhorn served as a United States Immigration Judge in Los Angeles from 1990 to 2007. He now serves as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Pepperdine University School of Law in Malibu, California, and a Visiting Professor of International, Immigration, and Refugee Law at the University of Oxford, England. He is also a contributing op-ed columnist at D.C.-based The Hill newspaper. He is a member of the Bars of Washington D.C., New York, Pennsylvania, and the Supreme Court of the United States.

The Honorable Cecelia M. Espenoza served as a Member of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (“EOIR”) Board of Immigration Appeals from 2000-2003 and in the Office of the General Counsel from 2003-2017 where she served as Senior Associate General Counsel, Privacy Officer, Records Officer and Senior FOIA Counsel. She is presently in private practice as an independent consultant on immigration law, and a member of the World Bank’s Access to Information Appeals Board. Prior to her EOIR appointments, she was a law professor at St. Mary’s University (1997-2000) and the University of Denver College of Law (1990-1997) where she taught Immigration Law and Crimes and supervised students in the Immigration and Criminal Law Clinics. She has published several articles on Immigration Law. She is a graduate of the University of Utah and the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law. She was recognized as the University of Utah Law School’s Alumna of the Year in 2014 and received the Outstanding Service Award from the Colorado Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Page 3 of 32 Association in 1997 and the Distinguished Lawyer in Public Service Award from the Utah State Bar in 1989-1990.

The Honorable Noel Ferris served as an Immigration Judge in New York from 1994 to 2013 and an attorney advisor to the Board from 2013 to 2016, until her retirement. Previously, she served as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York from 1985 to 1990 and as Chief of the Immigration Unit from 1987 to 1990.

The Honorable John F. Gossart, Jr. served as a U.S. Immigration Judge from 1982 until his retirement in 2013 and is the former president of the National Association of Immigration Judges. At the time of his retirement, he was the third most senior immigration judge in the United States. Judge Gossart was awarded the Attorney General Medal by then Attorney General Eric Holder. From 1975 to 1982, he served in various positions with the former Immigration Naturalization Service, including as general attorney, naturalization attorney, trial attorney, and deputy assistant commissioner for naturalization. He is also the co-author of the National Immigration Court Practice Manual, which is used by all practitioners throughout the United States in immigration court proceedings. From 1997 to 2016, Judge Gossart was an adjunct professor of law at the University of Baltimore School of Law teaching immigration law, and more recently was an adjunct professor of law at the University of Maryland School of Law also teaching immigration law. He has been a faculty member of the National Judicial College, and has guest lectured at numerous law schools, the Judicial Institute of Maryland and the former Maryland Institute for the Continuing Education of Lawyers. He is also a past board member of the Immigration Law Section of the Federal Bar Association. Judge Gossart served in the United States Army from 1967 to 1969 and is a veteran of the Vietnam War. Page 4 of 32

The Honorable William P. Joyce served as an Immigration Judge in Boston, Massachusetts. Subsequent to retiring from the bench, he has been the Managing Partner of Joyce and Associates with 1,500 active immigration cases. Prior to his appointment to the bench, he served as legal counsel to the Chief Immigration Judge. Judge Joyce also served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Associate General Counsel for enforcement for INS. He is a graduate of Georgetown School of Foreign Service and Georgetown Law School.

The Honorable Edward Kandler was appointed as an Immigration Judge in October 1998. Prior to his appointment to the Immigration Court in Seattle in June 2004, he served as an Immigration Judge at the Immigration Court in San Francisco from August 2000 to June 2004 and at the Immigration Court in New York City from October 1998 to August 2000. Judge Kandler received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1971 from California State University at San Francisco, a Master of Arts degree in 1974 from California State University at Hayward, and a Juris Doctorate in 1981 from the University of California at Davis. Judge Kandler served as an assistant U.S. trustee for the Western District of Washington from 1988 to 1998. He worked as an attorney for the law firm of Chinello, Chinello, Shelton & Auchard in Fresno, California, in 1988. From 1983 to 1988, Judge Kandler served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of California. He was also with the San Francisco law firm of Breon, Galgani, Godino from 1981 to 1983. Judge Kandler is a member of the California Bar.

The Honorable Carol King served as an Immigration Judge from 1995 to 2017 in San Francisco and was a temporary Board member for six months between 2010 and 2011. She previously practiced immigration law for ten years, both with the Law Offices of Marc Van Der Page 5 of 32 Hout and in her own private practice. She also taught immigration law for five years at Golden Gate University School of Law and is currently on the faculty of the Stanford University Law School Trial Advocacy Program. Judge King now works as a Removal Defense Strategist, advising attorneys and assisting with research and writing related to complex removal defense issues.

The Honorable Lory D. Rosenberg served on the Board from 1995 to 2002. She then served as Director of the Defending Immigrants Partnership of the National Legal Aid & Defender Association from 2002 until 2004. Prior to her appointment, she worked with the American Immigration Law Foundation from 1991 to 1995. She was also an adjunct Immigration Professor at American University Washington College of Law from 1997 to 2004. She is the founder of IDEAS Consulting and Coaching, LLC., a consulting service for immigration lawyers, and is the author of Immigration Law and Crimes. She currently works as Senior Advisor for the Immigrant Defenders Law Group.

The Honorable Susan Roy started her legal career as a Staff Attorney at the Board of Immigration Appeals, a position she received through the Attorney General Honors Program. She served as Assistant Chief Counsel, National Security Attorney, and Senior Attorney for the DHS Office of Chief Counsel in Newark, NJ, and then became an Immigration Judge, also in Newark. Sue has been in private practice for nearly 5 years, and two years ago, opened her own immigration law firm. Sue is the NJ AILA Chapter Liaison to EOIR, is the Vice Chair of the Immigration Law Section of the NJ State Bar Association, and in 2016 was awarded the Outstanding Prop Bono Attorney of the Year by the NJ Chapter of the Federal Bar Association. Page 6 of 32

The Honorable Paul W. Schmidt served as an Immigration Judge from 2003 to 2016 in Arlington, virginia. He previously served as Chairman of the Board of Immigration Appeals from 1995 to 2001, and as a Board Member from 2001 to 2003. He authored the landmark decision Matter of Kasinga, 21 I&N Dec. 357 (BIA 1995) extending asylum protection to victims of female genital mutilation. He served as Deputy General Counsel of the former INS from 1978 to 1987, serving as Acting General Counsel from 1986-87 and 1979-81. He was the managing partner of the Washington, D.C. office of Fragomen, DelRey & Bernsen from 1993 to 1995, and practiced business immigration law with the Washington, D.C. office of Jones, Day, Reavis and Pogue from 1987 to 1992, where he was a partner from 1990 to 1992. He served as an adjunct professor of law at George Mason University School of Law in 1989, and at Georgetown University Law Center from 2012 to 2014 and 2017 to present. He was a founding member of the International Association of Refugee Law Judges (IARLJ), which he presently serves as Americas Vice President. He also serves on the Advisory Board of AYUDA, and assists the National Immigrant Justice Center/Heartland Alliance on various projects; and speaks, writes and lectures at various forums throughout the country on immigration law topics. He also created the immigration law blog immigrationcourtside.com.

The Honorable Polly A. Webber served as an Immigration Judge from 1995 to 2016 in San Francisco, with details in facilities in Tacoma, Port Isabel, Boise, Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Orlando. Previously, she practiced immigration law from 1980 to 1995 in her own private practice in San Jose. She was a national officer in AILA from 1985 to 1991 and served as National President of AILA from 1989 to 1990. She has also taught immigration and nationality law at both Santa Clara University School of Law and Lincoln Law School. Page 7 of 32

The Honorable Gustavo D. Villageliu served as a Board of Immigration Appeals Member from July 1995 to April 2003. He then served as Senior Associate General Counsel for the Executive Office for Immigration Review until he retired in 2011, helping manage FOIA, Privacy and Security as EOIR Records Manager. Before becoming a Board Member, Villageliu was an Immigration Judge in Miami, with both detained and non-detained dockets, as well as the Florida Northern Region Institutional Criminal Alien Hearing Docket 1990-95. Mr. Villageliu was a member of the Iowa, Florida and District of Columbia Bars. He graduated from the University of Iowa College of Law in 1977. After working as a Johnson County Attorney prosecutor intern in Iowa City, Iowa he joined the Board as a staff attorney in January 1978, specializing in war criminal, investor, and criminal alien cases.

HERE’S A SUMMARY OF OUR ARGUMENT:

ARGUMENT………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 7

I. Immigration Judges and the Board have inherent and delegated authority to order administrative closure in a case ……………………………………………………………………………… 7

A. Federal courts have recognized that judges possess an inherent authority to order administrative closure………………………………………………………………………… 8

B. Regulations establishing and governing Immigration Judges ratify their inherent authority to order administrative closure. …………………………………………. 9

II. The Board’s decisions in Matter of Avetisyan, 25 I&N Dec. 688 (BIA 2012), and Matter of W-Y-U-, 27 I&N Dec. 17 (BIA 2017), articulate the appropriate standard for administrative closure……………………………………………………………………….. 13

A. The legal standard set forth in Avetisyan and W-Y-U- gives the Immigration Judge the correct degree of independence in deciding motions for administrative closure. ……………………………………………………………………………… 13

B. The facts and disposition of the case at bar show that the legal standard under Avetisyan and W-Y-U- is working correctly. ………………………………………………… 16

III. Fundamental principles of administrative law hold that the Attorney General cannot change the regulations that grant this authority without proper notice and comment rulemaking. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 18

A. Practical docket management considerations weigh in favor of retaining administrative closure. ……………………………………………………………………………… 19

B. Due process considerations also weigh in favor of retaining administrative closure. …………………………………………………………………………………………………… 21

IV. Options such as continuances, dismissal without prejudice, and termination without prejudice, are suboptimal as compared to administrative closure. …………………………….. 22

V. There is no reason to attach legal consequences to administrative closure. ………………… 25

FINALLY, HERE’S THE COMPLETE BRIEF FOR YOUR INFORMATION AND READING PLEASURE:

Former IJs and Retired BIA Members – FINAL Castro-Tum Brief

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  • Thanks again to all retired my colleagues. What a great opportunity to “reunite online” in support of a critically important cause affecting the American Justice System!
  • Special thanks to Judge Jeffrey Chase for spearheading the effort and getting all of us together!
  • “Super Special Thanks” to the amazing Steven H. Schulman, Partner at Akin Gump DC and to Akin Gump for donating your valuable time and expertise and making this happen!

PWS

02-17-18

 

 

 

 

CRIME/NATIONAL SECURITY/TRUMP: “NO DOUBTER” – ANYONE WHO THINKS THAT VALDI PUTIN DIDN’T HELP ELECT TRUMP IS BADLY MISTAKEN – Just Read Mueller’s Latest Indictment! – I’ve Got It for You!

 

Russian Indictment

 

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So, now you know why:

  • Trump fears the truth;
  • Sessions runs around the country trashing Dreamers, asylum seekers, lawyers, empowering MS-13, and promoting his White Nationalist agenda while not lifting a finger to prevent Russian meddling in our elections;
  • DHS is headed by a lightweight sycophant who is more concerned about deporting gardeners and maids and “kissing up” to Trump’s racist agenda than about protecting our country from the active threat by Russia;
  • We’re standing by and letting Russia run all over us on the world stage;
  • Vladi is just delighted with the performance of his “Puppet President,” “Agent Devon,” and a host of GOP “Fellow Travelers;”
  • Trump and his cohorts are out to destroy the career civil service because career civil servants owe allegiance to our Constitution rather than to Trump and his corrupt minions.

Wake up, folks, and vote the GOP out of office, on all levels, before it’s too late for America!

PWS

02-15-18

MEET THE GOOD GUYS: NOVA SUPERSTAR IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY AVA BENACH HELPS “DREAMER TYPES” & THEY HELP AMERICA – THIS IS THE WAY THE SYSTEM CAN WORK WHEN YOU GET BEYOND THE WHITE NATIONALIST XENOPHOBIA OF TRUMP, SESSIONS, & MILLER & WHEN GREAT LAWYERS GET INVOLVED!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/she-was-almost-deported-as-a-teen-now-she-helps-frightened-versions-of-herself/2018/02/15/b39969a8-1245-11e8-9065-e55346f6de81_story.html

Petula Dvorak writes in the Washington Post:

“She was almost deported as a teen. Now she helps frightened versions of herself.


Liana Montecinos is a senior paralegal at Benach Collopy in Washington. She was 17 and about to be deported when lawyer Ava Benach helped her win asylum. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

Columnist February 15 at 3:39 PM

On many days in the shiny, sleek law office — in her sharp suit and sweeping view of Washington — she revisits all the horrors most people would want to forget:

The drunk men bursting into her tiny, adobe home at night, terrorizing the 15 children who lived there.

The walk across three countries, fearing for her life the entire way.

The months of eating nothing but beans and rice.

These are the same stories Liana Montecinos hears just about every time the 29-year-old paralegal sits down with a client.

Ava Benach, from left, Satsita Muradova and Liana Montecinos chat at their law office. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

She doesn’t have to go there. She’s an American citizen and a third-year law student with a great future in front of her. But instead of going into something lucrative — corporate law, for example — she’s sticking with the law firm that helped her get political asylum.

“Being an immigrant and serving immigrants, it’s a very special connection,” Montecinos said.

And by doing that, she spends her days with frightened versions of herself.

I wanted to tell Montecinos’s story as Congress grapples with the fate of 1.8 million “dreamers,” the undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country as children. They face deportation under President Trump unless Congress can find a way to reinstate the protection they were given by President Barack Obama.

Montecinos was brought across the border by a relative in 1999, when she was 11 years old, after walking — yes, actually walking — from Honduras, across Guatemala, then across Mexico, crossing the Rio Grande into the United States.

She joined her mother in Northern Virginia — they had been separated since she was an infant and she had been raised by her grandmother — and her life was transformed.

She played volleyball and basketball in her Falls Church high school. She was a cheerleader and soccer player. She took Advanced Placement classes.

But no matter how well she was doing in school and no matter how faint her accent became, she knew it could all fall apart any second.

And it nearly did when she was 17 and applied for legal status. Instead, the government began removal proceedings. She was going to be deported.

But it didn’t stop her from graduating from high school and enrolling at George Mason University, where she received a scholarship to cover the triple-tuition she had to pay as an undocumented student.

The scholarship’s donor — Helen Ackerman — introduced Montecinos to D.C. immigration attorney Ava Benach, who took on her complex case. What followed was a 10-year struggle.

“I met Liana when she was 17 years old,” Benach said. “And I knew she was special. She was out there, trying to figure out her own immigration status. I felt a very parental desire to help her.”

So they took on the case together, with Montecinos never giving up.

“I’d be doing an all-nighter, knowing I had a hearing the next day and the judge could send me away and it would all be for nothing,” she said.

But she kept studying, striving and working. You know how folks are always saying “Why don’t they just get legal?” It’s not that easy.

It took 10 years of hearings and arguments to convince a judge that she faced threats and violence in Honduras, in that tiny, adobe house, and that her hard work in school, model citizenship and potential were enough to grant her a place in American society.

Asylum is granted only to someone who faces persecution in their home country. And that persecution has to be for one of five reasons: your race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or your political opinion.

“It has to fit in one of five boxes,” Benach said. And her life’s work is helping her frightened clients qualify.

Montecinos was granted asylum and citizenship on June 29, 2016.

“For many, becoming a U.S. citizen is the last part of the process,” Montecinos wrote on her Facebook page that day. “For others, like myself, it is the beginning to end 16 plus years of uncertainty and of fear of a forceful return to imminent harm.”

She called herself “extremely blessed and thankful for such a privilege, which is denied to many,” she said. “This path, however, was not easy. It was not short. It was not cheap.”

She is in her third year of law school at the University of the District of Columbia, where she received a Student Humanitarian and Civic Engagement award on Thursday.

In her spare time, you see, she runs a nonprofit group she founded, United for Social Justice, which helps low-income, first-generation Americans get access to higher education. Oh, and she coaches and plays on a bunch of soccer teams.

When she meets with the undocumented children who are like her, the ones she is fighting for, it reminds her of her struggle.

Though her own story is horrible — think of being 11 and scared, hiding your face with blankets as you cross strange villages where people are yelling “pollos mojados” (wet chickens) at you, not knowing where you’re going — her clients recount even more heart-stopping stories.

She hears from children who were kidnapped, who rode for days on top of speeding trains, afraid to fall asleep because they’d fall off, from a little girl who was gang-raped in front of her father.”

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Ava has a “Major League” legal mind to go with a “heart of gold!” She and her colleagues from her firm appeared on many occasions before me at the Arlington Immigration Court.

This article aptly illustrates one of the points I often make.  Asylum law has intentionally been “jacked” against Central Americans by a non-independent BIA working under pressure from politicos to limit protections to large groups. Nevertheless, with a good lawyer (e.g., one who isn’t afraid to argue the BIA’s — often otherwise ignored — favorable precedents back to them and to take wrong BIA denials to the Court of Appeals if necessary), resources to build and document a case, and persistence, most of the “Dreamers” probably could win some type of relief in Immigration Court if not at the Asylum Office or elsewhere at USCIS.

But, what rational reason could there be for forcing folks like Liana Montecinos who are already here, part of our society, and just want to become taxpaying citizens and REALLY “Make America Great” (not to be confused with the disingenuous racist slogan of Trump and his White Nationalist “base”) go through such a laborious process? And what possible rationale could there be for wasting the time of an already overburdened Immigration Court system with cases of individuals who clearly should be welcomed and accepted into American society without being placed in “Removal Proceedings?” Also, what would be the rationale for trying to artificially “speed up” complex cases like Liana’s and trying to make life difficult for talented lawyers like Ava?

The answer is clear: there is NO rationale for the “Gonzo” Immigration enforcement and “designed chaos and attack on Due Process in Immigration Court” that Trump, Miller, Sessions, Nielsen, Tom Homan and their ilk are trying to ram down our throats. Sessions is the problem for justice in our Immigration Courts; lawyers like Ava are a key part of the solution! Clearly, the U.S. Immigration Courts are too important to our system of justice to be left in the clutches of a biased, “enforcement only,” White Nationalist, xenophobic opponent of individual due process like Jeff Sessions! American needs an independent Article I U.S. Immigration Court! Harm to the least and most vulnerable among us is harm to all!

The good news is that folks like Ava and her fellow “Generals” of the “New Due Process Army” are out there to fight Trump, Sessions & Company and their White Nationalist, anti-American actions every step of the way and to vindicate the Constitutional and legal rights of great American migrants like Liliana and millions of others similarly situated. They are “American’s future!” Trump, Sessions, Miller, et al., are the ugly past of America that all decent Americans should be committed to “putting in the rear-view mirror” where the “Trumpsters” live and belong! And, it won’t be long before Liliana becomes an attorney and a “full-fledged member” of the “New Due Process Army!”

Go Ava! Go Liliana! Due Process Forever! 

PWS

02-16-18

 

HUMAN RIGHTS FIRST – JOIN THE BATTLE – TELL YOUR SENATORS TO ”JUST SAY NO” TO ADMINISTRATION’S SLEAZY WHITE NATIONALIST ATTACK ON HUMAN RIGHTS, DREAMERS, AND HUMAN DECENCY!

Human Rights First - American Ideals. Universal Values.
Paul,

The Dreamers—immigrants brought to the United States as children—have become the quintessential political football. And today, the battle continues.

The Senate will vote on bills today to protect the Dreamers, but many of them include inhumane provisions that would turn our backs on asylum seekers—some of the most vulnerable individuals in the world.

President Trump and his allies are using Dreamers, asylum seekers, and refugees as bargaining chips to pursue extreme immigration restrictions.

Take Action Now

Under the Trump Administration, the United States is turning away migrants at the border, restricting their ability to seek asylum, and increasing criminal prosecutions. And today, the Senate may vote to expand these cruel practices further, punishing refugees fleeing violence and prosecution, and families left in harm’s way.

Join with us and call on your senators to stand firm on protections for refugees, asylum seekers, and families.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Quigley

Advocacy Strategist

On human rights, the United States must be a beacon. America is strongest when our policies and actions match our values.
Human Rights First - American Ideals. Universal Values.
Human Rights First is an independent advocacy and action organization that challenges America to live up to its ideals. We believe American leadership is essential in the struggle for human rights so we press the U.S. government and private companies to respect human rights and the rule of law. When they don’t, we step in to demand reform, accountability and justice. Around the world, we work where we can best harness American influence to secure core freedoms.

Human Rights First
New York: 75 Broad Street, 31st Floor, New York, NY 10004
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Los Angeles: 333 South Hope Street, 43rd Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90071
www.humanrightsfirst.org | Click here to unsubscribe | Click here to signup

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Click on “Take Action Now” to stop the White Nationalist assault on American Values and Human Rights.  “Harm to one, is harm to all.” 

“We can diminish ourselves as a Nation, but that won’t stop human migration!”

PWS

02-15-18

“QUEEN OF DISINGENUOUS NONSENSE” SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS WAS AT A LOSS FOR WORDS – WHILE SOME MIGHT WELL VIEW THAT AS A GOOD THING FOR AMERICA, DANA MILBANK @ WASHPOST HELPS HER OUT! — “I used the time waiting in vain for Wednesday’s briefing to compile the following executive summary of l’affaire Porter, in Trump administration officials’ own words . . . .”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/sarah-huckabee-sanders-is-at-a-loss-for-words-on-rob-porter-i-am-here-for-her/2018/02/14/0a019a22-11e2-11e8-9065-e55346f6de81_story.html

Milbank writes:

“Are you having trouble keeping up with the Rob Porter scandal? Apparently Sarah Huckabee Sanders is.

Her daily press briefing Wednesday was scheduled for 1 p.m., then at 2 p.m. was postponed until 4 p.m., then at 4 p.m. was abandoned entirely. The menu of topics — scandals at the EPA and VA, confirmation of a payoff to porn actress Stormy Daniels and, by midafternoon, another horrendous school shooting — was hardly appetizing. And the unpalatable entree was sure to be Porter, the White House staff secretary who resigned last week amid accusations of wife-beating that were ignored by the White House for months.

After eight days of the administration’s shifting and contradictory explanations of its handling of Porter, it’s quite understandable that Sanders would be at a loss for words. But I am here for her. As a public service, I used the time waiting in vain for Wednesday’s briefing to compile the following executive summary of l’affaire Porter, in Trump administration officials’ own words:

White House officials “are all processing the shocking and troubling allegations made against” Porter, which is why they “hope he has a wonderful career and hopefully he will have a great career ahead of him.”

Columnist Ruth Marcus says White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly is as much of a disgrace as the former staff secretary whose spousal abuse Kelly covered up.

Porter “says he’s innocent and I think you have to remember that. He said very strongly yesterday that he’s innocent,” which explains why “it became apparent to us that the allegations were true.”

Porter “is someone of the highest integrity and exemplary character” and is the victim of “a coordinated smear campaign.” As a result, there is “no reason not to believe the women” who accused him, and his “resignation was appropriate.”

Resignation “was a personal decision that Rob made and one that he was not pressured to do, but one that he made on his own.” Furthermore, “we dismissed that person immediately.”

There were “contemporaneous police reports,” “women speaking to the FBI under threat of perjury” and “photographs” corroborating accusations of wife beating. Consequently, “we absolutely wish him well.”

The White House “learned of the extent of the situation involving Rob Porter last Tuesday evening,” as a result of Porter himself telling the White House counsel of the situation in January 2017.

As of Sunday, the White House “had not received a final investigation” of Porter’s background because “the FBI has the ongoing investigations” had “not completed that investigation,” which is only logical given that the FBI gave the White House “a completed background investigation” in July and “closed the file” last month.

Kelly learned the details of Porter’s situation only “40 minutes before he threw him out,” last week, several months after Kelly reportedly was informed that allegations of spousal abuse were holding up Porter’s security clearance.

Once White House officials learned of the Porter allegations, “within 24 hours his resignation had been accepted and announced,” which is why the White House security office informed high-level White House officials about the allegations in November and Porter resigned in February.

The president has “absolute confidence in Gen. Kelly,” who is “an American hero” and also a “big fat liar.”

The “White House personnel security office,” which received the FBI’s background report on Porter, is part of “a process that doesn’t operate within the White House.”

The president is “totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind,” while “people’s lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation.” Domestic violence “is abhorrent and has no place in our society,” and “there is no recovery for someone falsely accused.” The White House takes “matters of domestic violence very seriously,” and “the president is shaped by a lot of false accusations against him” and wonders, “Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?”

When you think about the Porter affair this way, it all begins to make perfect sense. Yes, the matter is “shocking,” and the White House “could have done better.” And at the same time, “what happened this week was completely reasonable and normal.”

In the Trump White House, this juxtaposition of “shocking” and “normal” somehow doesn’t feel like an oxymoron.”

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Trump and his “toady/sycophant/enablers are “normalizing” lies and misinformation.

The Trump Administrator is the biggest threat to our democracy and our national security. Will enough folks wake up to the threat before it’s too late?

PWS

02-15-18

REP. LLOYD DOGGERT (D-TX) SUCCINCTLY EXPLAINS HOW ICE “GONZO ENFORCEMENT” DESTROYS AMERICAN FAMILIES, SPREADS TERROR – AND ICE ALSO LIES! — “We are all made less safe . . . .”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/austin-reveals-how-ice-raids-are-tearing-apart-families/2018/02/14/e953ea68-10cf-11e8-a68c-e9374188170e_story.html?utm_term=.f5a47bbd1b3d

Doggert writes in a letter to the Washington Post:

“Regarding the Feb. 12 front-page article “ICE’s wide net boosts arrests”:

During four days last February, Immigration and Customs Enforcement targeted Austin, apparently in retaliation for Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez’s justified refusal to honor some warrantless detainers. Despite claims by ICE that its operation targeted “public safety threats,” most of those arrested had no criminal background and most of those who did committed only relatively minor offenses.

ICE was not straightforward about its operation. Only through Gus Bova’s Texas Observer Freedom of Information Act request did I learn that ICE had apprehended almost three times the number initially disclosed to me. And, of those, many were also law-abiding residents. I still await answers from ICE concerning whether its deceit extended beyond Austin and has continued.

One “dreamer” reported that for weeks following these raids, her parents would leave home only one at a time for fear of leaving their children without any caregiver.

Indiscriminate raids make immigrants fearful of assisting local law enforcement. ” but the Trump administration does not conduct these for safety. Its objective is to instill fear and to intimidate immigrants into leaving. And this is the same treatment that dreamers could receive beginning next month if House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) continues to block a vote to secure their status.

ICE raids on the innocent rip apart families, devastate communities and satisfy only President Trump’s anti-immigrant hysteria.

Lloyd Doggett, Washington

The writer, a Democrat, represents Texas’s
35th District in the House.”

*****************************

“Right on,” Lloyd!

Almost every day, America’s most despised and least trusted police force “earns their chops” with cruel, inhumane, dishonest, and ultimately senseless acts of “Gonzo ” enforcement.

“We can diminish ourselves as a Nation, but it won’t stop human migration!”

PWS

02-15-18

TAL @ CNN – STATUS OF PARENTS STICKING POINT IN SENATE DREAMER NEGOTIATIONS

http://www.cnn.com/2018/02/14/politics/daca-parents-flashpoint/index.html

 

DACA parents become flashpoint in negotiations

By: Tal Kopan, CNN

As the debate over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program goes down to the wire, the parents of the young undocumented immigrants affected — not the recipients themselves — may be the trickiest flashpoint.

Negotiations on a bipartisan Senate plan have been thorny on the issue of what to do about the parents, according to sources familiar with the group’s discussions, and comments from lawmakers. And threading the needle could be the difference on whether it can get 60 votes.

“If you deal with the parents now, you lose a lot of Republicans. If you try to do the breaking chain migration now, you lose a lot of Democrats,” South Carolina’s Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said of the talks. “We’re going to say that parents can’t be sponsored by the Dream Act child they brought in illegally.”

According to a draft of the bipartisan deal obtained by CNN, the compromise would prevent parents from being sponsored for citizenship by their children if the children received citizenship through the pathway created by the bill or if the parents brought them to the US illegally. That leaves Democrats grappling with the idea that they may have to trade protections for DACA immigrants for a penalty for their parents, who brought them to the US illegally.

“I don’t like that part,” Hawaii’s Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono said, leaving a meeting of Democrats where they were briefed on the bill, though she indicated she may be able to accept it as a compromise.

At issue are laws that allow US citizens to sponsor family members for eventual citizenship, including parents.

The Trump administration and allies have seized on the issue of family-based migration as a wedge, arguing that all forms of family sponsorship except spouses and minor children should be cut.

But even Republican moderates who don’t support that position are concerned about the implications for parents of recipients of DACA.

If eligible young immigrants are granted a path to becoming citizens in roughly a decade, as per most proposals, that could allow them to sponsor their parents down the road — though experts say it’s not that simple.

Conservatives object to the notion that parents who came here illegally could eventually be rewarded with citizenship.

In a call with reporters on Wednesday, a White House official said that without blocking parental sponsorship for people who came to the US illegally with their children, a deal “would massively incentivize” more illegal immigration and would create a “perverse incentive of adult illegal immigrants to (not) enter illegally without their children.”

How to do it is tricky. Lawmakers agree it’s impossible to create a class of citizen that has different rights than others, so that leaves either cutting parental sponsorship for all citizens, a massive cut to current legal immigration or specifically addressing parents of DACA immigrants.

Advocates and experts point out that it’s false to claim that a DACA pathway would quickly, or even easily, allow parents to get citizenship.

The law already requires that individuals who came to the US illegally and have been here without status for more than a year — statistically a substantial majority of DACA parents — are required to return to their home countries for at least 10 years before they can apply for green cards. Nothing in proposed legislation would remove that requirement, which would come after a 10- to 12-year waiting period for the children.

After that, all of those individuals would still have to meet other requirements on all green card applicants, including clean criminal records and being able to prove they could support themselves once here. Advanced age can be used as a factor to reject immigrants on the latter grounds.

William Stock, a partner at Klasko Immigration Law Partners and the former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said “nearly all” DACA parents would have trouble becoming citizens even with a bill because of the 10-year penalty.

“If they didn’t have to deal with the 10-year bar, they would have done it already,” Stock said. “They wouldn’t be undocumented, because they could have found some way (to legalize their status.)”

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How screwed up is U.S. Immigration policy under Trump and the GOP?

Under a rational policy, we would not only legalize the “Dreamers” and give them a path to citizenship, but also eliminate the stupid, cruel, and ineffective (actually counterproductive) 10-year bar. Then, over time, as the Dreamers naturalized (five or more years down the line from any green card) they could petition for their parents, and gradually, those who were still alive could gain legal status.  Pretty much another win-win. Parents of “Dreamers” are almost all good, hard-working folks who took risks and “put it all on the line” for their kids’ futures. Basically “salt of the earth.”What better people could you want for fellow citizens? And the parents who are already here are basically supporting the rest of us with their work.

But, when one side of the “debate” is driven by bias, racism, xenophobia, White Nationalism, bogus narratives, and fake statistics, well, you get folks like the immigration restrictionists and the mess we have today. We’d do much better if we just incorporated all the good folks who are already here into our society over time and moved forward as a united country. That would be common sense, enlightened self-interest, and basic human decency. Not in the restrictionists’ play book, I’m afraid. But, someday we’ll either get to that point, in spite of the restrictionists, or perish as a viable nation. That’s why Putin loves Trump and the GOP so much. America’s worst enemies are his best friends!

PWS

02-14-18

THOROUGHLY CORRUPT: IT’S NOT JUST THE IMMORAL AND INCOMPETENT LEADERSHIP AT DHS AND ICE – THERE’S “OLD FASHIONED CRIMINAL CORRUPTION” IN THE RANKS – ICE CHIEF COUNSEL IN SEATTLE STOLE MIGRANTS’ IDENTITIES!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2018/02/14/top-seattle-ice-official-stole-immigrants-personal-information-feds-say/?utm_term=.3b52e692b83d

Derek Hawkins reports for the Washington Post:

“The top attorney for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Seattle is accused of stealing immigrants’ identities in an attempt to defraud several credit card companies.

Raphael A. Sanchez, ICE’s chief counsel in the city, was charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft, according to a charging document filed this week in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.

The charges, both felonies, were first reported Tuesday by the Associated Press, which also reported that Sanchez had resigned from ICE effective Monday.

A defense attorney for Sanchez did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment. A spokeswoman for ICE’s Seattle field office referred questions to the Department of Justice, where no one was immediately available to discuss the case.

The charging document states that between October 2013 and October 2017 Sanchez used the personal information of seven immigrants to try to defraud several financial institutions, including American Express, Citibank and Bank of America. The immigrants were all “in various stages of immigration proceedings,” read the document signed by attorneys from Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section.

The document, known as an information, offers few details about Sanchez’s alleged offenses. But in one example, prosecutors alleged Sanchez stole the name, Social Security number and birth date of a Chinese national identified only as R.H.

The charges state that on April 18, 2016, Sanchez sent himself an email through his government account containing an image of a U.S. permanent resident card and the biographical page of a Chinese passport issued to R.H. The email also allegedly contained a Puget Sound Energy bill in R.H.’s name for service at an address in a southern Seattle neighborhood with a large Asian population.

Property records list Raphael A. Sanchez as the owner of the address cited in the information.

Sanchez is scheduled to appear in court for a plea hearing Thursday morning, according to the court calendar. The filing of an information typically signals that a defendant has waived indictment by a grand jury and intends to work out a plea agreement with prosecutors.

As chief counsel, Sanchez negotiated a $2.25 million civil settlement in 2015 with a Washington apple orchard owner that was accused of hiring more than 900 employees who were not authorized to work in the United States.

ICE agents in Washington have played an active role in President Trump’s immigration crackdown. They arrested dozens of undocumented immigrants in September’s Operation Safe City, a four-day effort in which the administration targeted “sanctuary cities” around the country, including Seattle, where local officials do not cooperate with federal immigration enforcement.”

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For the most part, the ICE Offices of Chief Counsel have been some of the “bright spots” in an agency noted for its problematic performance in many areas. But, in this case, not so much. Preying on the vulnerable? Using Government e-mail to do it? What was he thinking? At least they eventually caught up with him!

Bad stuff!

PWS

02-15-18

 

FORMER GOVERNMENT IMMIGRATION EXECUTIVES (INCLUDING ME) FILE AMICUS BRIEF IN HAMAMA V. HOMAN IN 6TH CIRCUIT (“The Iraqi Christian Case”)

Here’s a copy of the brief prepared by Michael P. Doss, Esquire, of Sidley & Austin, Chicago IL:

Filed stamped copy of amicus brief

HERE’S THE INTRODUCTION  SETTING FORTH “THE PLAYERS:”

IDENTITY AND INTEREST OF AMICI CURIAE

Amici have served in the U.S. Department of Justice and senior positions in the federal agencies charged with enforcement of U.S. immigration laws, and in those capacities have played substantial roles in the development, implementation, and adjudication of federal immigration policy and laws. Amici thus have an interest in this case, and in the just and efficient operation of the U.S. immigration enforcement system.

Mónica Ramírez Almadani served in the U.S. Department of Justice as Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division from 2009 to 2012, and as Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Counsel to the Deputy Attorney General from 2011 to 2012, during which time she, among other things, advised on immigration

1 Amici submit this brief pursuant to Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 29(a)(2). The parties have consented to the filing of this brief. Amici further state, pursuant to Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 29(a)(4)(E), that no counsel for a party authored this brief in whole or in part, and no person other than the amicus curiae or their counsel made a monetary contribution intended to fund the preparation or submission of this brief.

1

Case: 17-2171 Document: 43 Filed: 02/12/2018 Page: 6

policy and litigation and worked closely with the Executive Office of Immigration Review.

Seth Grossman served as Chief of Staff to the General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) from 2010 to 2011, as Deputy General Counsel of DHS from 2011 to 2013, and as Counselor to the Secretary of Homeland Security in 2013.

Stephen Legomsky served as Chief Counsel of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services from 2011 to 2013, and as Senior Counselor to the Secretary of Homeland Security in 2015.

Leon Rodriguez served as Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services from 2013 to 2017.

John Sandweg served as the Acting Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) in 2013 and 2014, and as the Acting General Counsel of DHS from 2012 to 2013.

Paul Wickham Schmidt served as an Immigration Judge for the U.S. Immigration Court from May 2003 until his retirement from the bench in June 2016. Before his Immigration Judge appointment, Judge Schmidt served as a Board Member and Board Chairman for the Board

of Immigration Appeals, Executive Office for Immigration Review, from 2

Case: 17-2171 Document: 43 Filed: 02/12/2018 Page: 7

1995 until 2003. Judge Schmidt also served as acting General Counsel of the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) from 1979 to 1981 and again from 1986 to 1987, and as the Deputy General Counsel of INS from 1978 to 1987.

As former leaders of the nation’s primary immigration agencies and the U.S. Department of Justice, and a former longtime Immigration Judge, amici are familiar with the operation of the United States immigration enforcement system. Amici support the district court’s preliminary injunction order and urge this Court to affirm that decision. Amici focus here on two issues before this Court: (i) first, whether the “motion to reopen” process currently available before our immigration courts provides Petitioners with an “adequate and effective” substitute for habeas relief; and (ii) second, whether the public interest is served by briefly staying enforcement of removal orders regarding these Iraqi nationals so that the immigration courts have a fair opportunity to review their claims.

3

Case: 17-2171 Document: 43 Filed: 02/12/2018 Page: 8

Based on our experience helping to lead the federal agencies charged with enforcement of U.S. immigration laws, we are compelled to conclude that the district court reached the correct conclusion on both these issues. In particular, without the “breathing room” provided by the district court’s temporary stay of removal, our overburdened immigration courts are unable to provide an adequate and effective remedy for Petitioners having valid claims for protection from removal due to the likelihood they face persecution or torture on return to Iraq. In addition, given the clearly established changed circumstances in Iraq, which show that the Petitioners would have an objective well- founded fear of persecution if forced to return, the district court’s order furthers the public interest by affording aliens threatened with persecution on removal to Iraq a meaningful opportunity to have these claims heard. The some-1,400 Iraqi nationals impacted by the district court’s order represent a drop in the bucket compared to those subject to removal each year by immigration authorities, and a temporary stay of their removal to allow immigration courts time to assess their claims will not undermine the United States’ immigration enforcement system.

\

AND, HERE’S AN OUTLINE OF THE ARGUMENT:

ARGUMENT ……………………………………………………………………………….. 5

I.  The District Court Was Correct In Finding That, Under Current Circumstances, The Immigration Courts Do Not Provide Petitioners with Adequate and Effective Alternatives To Habeas Relief…………………….5

A.  The Immigration Courts System ……………………….. 5

B.  Our Immigration Courts Are Overburdened and Underfunded………………………………………………………. 6

C.  Emergency Stay Motions before Our Immigration Courts Do Not Currently Offer Petitioners an Adequate and Effective Alternative Remedy …..10

II. Allowing Petitioners Time to Obtain Review of Their Motions To Reopen Is In the Public Interest and Will Not Unreasonably Interfere with Immigration Enforcement ……………………………………………………………..15

A.  The United States has a Strong Interest In Protecting from Removal Those Petitioners Who Will Face Persecution or Torture in Iraq…………15

B.  The District Court’s Order Will Not Interfere With the United States’ Immigration Enforcement Scheme………………………………………..18

CONCLUSION…………………………………………………………………………… 21

CERTIFICATE OF COMPLIANCE…………………………………………….23

CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE…………………………………………………….24

***************************************

Many thanks to my “Fellow Amici” and to Michael Doss & his team at Sidley & Austin for a “Super Outstanding Job!” May Due Process prevail!!!!

PWS

02-14-18